Culture

Oakland Hills Fire Memorial

Built in memory of the 1991 Oakland Hills Fire, which claimed the lives of 25 people and destroyed over 37 hundred homes, the memorial features a fire-gutted home next to a rocky garden to educate the public about the importance of emergency preparedness in case of disasters. But signs of visitors over the years are…

Mausoleum of the Cathedral of Christ the Light

The Cathedral of Christ the Light stands on a big plaza in Oakland where people are sitting on benches and lawns, talking to each other, or drinking coffee between meetings. Students come to study under the sun. Children are running along the lake and near Children’s Fairyland on the other bank. Inside the cathedral, three…

Point Richmond fairy houses

Washington Avenue in Point Richmond is an uphill road with a view to the Golden Gate. At a first glance, it seems to contain only big houses, but when looking closer, almost everywhere there is a tiny magical neighbour—a fairy house! Those little magical inhabitants not only bring happiness to the locals, but also attract…

The Evergreen Cemetery

The Evergreen Cemetery has nothing of the dark, morbid and ghostly atmosphere people tend to associate with graveyards or see in the movies. It is a sunlit, open space with tall palm trees and mountains in the background. It feels paradoxically full of life. At 11 am on a Monday, there are not a lot…

Remember Them, Champions for Humanity

“Remember Them, Champions for Humanity” is a monument in downtown Oakland. It honors 25 people who in one way or another fought for peace, freedom and human rights. Tall buildings and business suits are what you see from one side of it. Tent towns are what you see coming from the other, the side facing…

Lois the Pie Queen

At Lois the Pie Queen, eight tables are occupied on an early Monday morning. Nearly every table being serviced is occupied by a group of two. No one has a phone in hand—people come here to chat. Sure, they’re here for the pie and the breakfast, but mostly for the ambience. This is a diner…

Heinold’s First and Last Chance Saloon

When I snuck a look at Heinold’s First and Last Chance Saloon on Yelp, it seemed to promise touristy kitsch. It’s a historic landmark in Jack London Square. The floor is sunken from the 1906 earthquake. The walls and ceilings are littered with business cards and hats, offered up by customers passing through. But when…

Ghost Ship memorial mural

Smashed between an auto body shop and a building supply warehouse is a mural. Blended in with the neutral tans and whites of its industrial surroundings, the brown and cream artwork sits hidden in plain view. No people stand to view it. No one in passing cars stops to stare. If they did, they would…